Writing online guitar lessons can be a form of passive income, help you play guitar better, and help others hear you play. This article will distill 25 years of my personal experience writing online guitar lessons into actionable steps to creating an epic online guitar lesson and monetizing it.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge Chris Webb and Dave Tamkin from Musician’s Tip Jar for inspiring this article. They produce podcasts on how to be a professional musician and focus on the financial side of the profession. I wanted to write an article that helps musicians make money from writing guitar lessons and provide a template for selling me a lesson that I would be proud to post to Guitar Lesson World. Read on to learn more.
What this lesson covers:
This lesson covers great content that can improve your teaching, playing, and bottom line. Here is what it covers.
- Two Reasons to Write Online Guitar Lessons
- 7 Strategies for Selecting a Topic
- 10 Strategies for Epic Guitar Lesson Content
- 5 Testimonials that Prove the Epic Guitar Lesson Content Strategies
- Three Ways You Can Publish Your Guitar Lessons
- How to Write a Lesson for Guitar Lesson World and Get Paid
Two Reasons to Write Online Guitar Lessons
To quote Aristotle, “Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach.”
The beauty of teaching guitar is that you expand your ability to play and your ability to understand guitar. In my case, I wanted to understand the guitar more deeply.
Of course, if you are good at teaching and writing, you can find ways to monetize your knowledge. You have two paths. One is to teach face-to-face (online or in person). This pays well; however, it consumes a lot of time. The beauty of writing online lessons is that you capture your content, improve as a guitarist, and can reuse the content to make money in the future. You are investing in your own music.
Whether you are writing to understand or writing to make money, this lesson will teach you how to write lessons that resonate with your readers, grow your understanding, and fatten your wallet.
7 Strategies for Selecting Guitar Lesson Topics
In this section, I am going to give you 7 actionable strategies that I have used to select a topic because it is important to pick a good topic to you maximize your time investment. You want to select a topic that hooks the reader and follows it up with great value.
Problem Areas for Guitarists
The first strategy to put your audience first and select a topic that addresses a specific problem-area for guitarists. My book, The Secrets of Learning the Fretboard, targets a specific problem-area for guitarists. As an example, this topic is more popular than a lesson on the minor system, which does not directly solve a problem.
Use What You Know Well
A second strategy is to choose a topic that you can teach well. Usually this means you can provide “aha” moments to your readers, or you may have a unique way of teaching a topic. Guitarists all learn in different ways. If you can provide the different ways that people learn a topic, you have the potential to give them a complete lesson.
Trending Topics from Social Media
Choose a topic that is trending. Today, you can get music trend info from social media platforms like Twitter, or you can find popular Google searches at https://trends.google.com. This is another example of how to find out what the audience wants to learn.
Lessons “in the style of [insert artist]” are popular because they solve a guitarist’s desire to emulate their musical idols. Copyrights are a problem here because most people teach styles by playing licks and riffs from their songs. The trick here is to modify the approaches they take. For example, do they use droning licks. This can also be a gateway to a useful piece of music theory. Ex: “How to play droning pentatonic riffs”.
Build on Inspiring Lessons
Build on existing articles. Identify an article that inspired you. Figure out how to build upon the concept in your own way. I have often taken inspiration from books and magazines. It is even more effective when you can merge two topics together.
Target a Publisher
If you want to If you are targeting a lesson for an existing site, you will want to make sure you add new value to the site. This strategy focuses on maximizing the likelihood that the publisher accepts your lesson. I have received several requests for advertisement articles or reciprocal articles. The biggest problem is getting content that adds new value to the site. In my case, I am happy to give feedback on topics for inclusion, but I also need to see the content before committing.
Read Online Forums
For my last suggestion, I recommend reading guitar forums to identify questions that guitarists are asking. Write a lesson that targets that issue. You can post that link to be helpful to the reader.
Topic Selection Strategies Review
- Identify a problem area for guitarists.
- Choose an area of strength for you with “aha” moments.
- Identify trending topics from social media.
- Style-of lessons.
- Build on existing articles in your own unique way.
- Choose topics that appeal to a potential publisher.
- Find topics on message boards and online forums.
Now that you can pick a great topic, let’s move on the strategies, best practices, and proof that it works. We’ll also cover how to monetize the content!
Strategies for Writing Epic Online Guitar Lessons
Once your readers click on your article, content is king. It drives everything from reader interest to search engine rank. The strategies in this section take inspiration from my most popular content and cover what I think makes a great online guitar lesson. I will not only provide strategies for writing the content, but I will also provide examples and real reader feedback that validates the strategies.
The Pillars of Epic Content
- Engagement – keep all readers engaged from start to finish by providing value.
- Readability – make sections short and simple so the reader can understand.
- Uniqueness – Unique value raises the quality and value of the content.
- Completeness – Provide all the information necessary to understand the content along with alternative concepts to remove confusion and maximize understanding.
Real-World Epic Guitar Lesson Example:
The strategies that I will describe will refer to examples from my Chord Construction lesson. I recommend reading it now or coming back to it after reading through this section.
My 10 Epic Guitar Lesson Content Strategies:
- Make your content at least 2000 words. This number is rooted in search engine optimization, but it also forces you to add a lot of value to a single article (making it appeal to a broad audience).
- Tell your reader what value they will get from reading the rest of the article. Since epic content is longer, you will want to recap main points and remind them of the valuable information to come. This engages the reader and reinforces the content!
- Never EVER leave the reader with a question. This means that you assume they know nothing on the topic. Provide links for information they need to understand the lesson. This tells the reader what they need to know in advance without slowing down the article for advanced guitarists. I did this with a block quote in the Chord Construction article.
- Another way to eliminate reader questions is to answer the questions “why/how” in each section. You should seek to eliminate assumptions and clarify anything that could be confusing. For example, the first “blockquote” in the Extended Chords section of the Chord Construction lesson explains why we use 9, 11, 13 instead of 2, 4, 6.
- Use notation, figures, and audio to increase clarity and break up text. Ask the question, can a figure summarize this topic quickly.
- As a rule of thumb, do not write more than 3 paragraphs without a new section, figure, table, bulleted list, or audio example.
- Seek opportunities to add value. These are the “aha” moments in your lesson. I like to review each section and consider how it could be read more efficiently. Sometimes this is reformatting, sometimes it is a new concept, like the “String to String Movement” section of the Chord Construction Lesson.
- Make each section small. You should be able to answer the question, “What one thing does this section answer?” If it is more than one, you should consider making it two sections. This improves readability and engagement.
- Seek ways to explain the topic in different ways. Everyone learns differently, and this will broaden your engaged audience.
- After writing your article, use a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool to make your article attractive to search engines. There are great plugins for WordPress, such as Yoast SEO, that will literally tell you whether your article is readable, whether your keywords are used often enough (but not too often), and much more.
5 Testimonials that Validate the Epic Guitar Lesson Content Strategies
I have been humbled by the positive feedback that people have provided. In this section, I will share some feedback that shows you why I believe my strategies work. The comments come from a full range of experience levels and explicitly validate the goals of the four strategies: engagement, readability, usefulness, and completeness.
Proper layout improves readability and helps the reader stay engaged throughout the lesson even if they’re experienced.
“… I play and teach guitar and I’ve never seen such a brilliant layout of this information. …”Sent from a gigging multi-instrumentalist and guitar teacher who comments on the readability.
Even if the reader is a beginner, they can often understand the concepts before they can put them into practice. If you have a complete lesson it will appeal to beginners and advanced readers.
“… I just finished reading the Chord Construction Lesson – man, that was great! There are a few things I need to go back and review because that is a LOADED Lesson, but THAT is what I loved about it – the thoroughness and LEVEL OF DETAIL, as well as very few assumptions of what the reader might or might not know is awesome. I have only been playing for a couple of months, …”Written by a beginner comments on the completeness of the lesson.
Engagement occurs when you are truly adding value. Readers are smart and they’re often looking for that missing piece of information that helps them improve as a musician.
“… The “observations” are brilliant as well as the 5<R<3 relationship tips! I have never seen this taught this way before and it simplifies so many things that usually start to fog up in my poor brain. This is one of the best lessons I’ve read and I was glued after the first sentence. …”This guitarist comments on the unique value, completeness, and engagement provided by the lesson.
Even epic content can be considered simple if the concepts are broken down into easy-to-understand parts and tell the entire story of the concepts.
“I’ve been playing for over 45 years … You have explained that in a very simple and positive way that I can understand and teach others. …”This guitarist of 45 years comments on the unique value.
Epic content should strive for a completeness that makes the lesson a one-stop-location for the information. It will excel where others have gaps.
“[The lesson] … connected so many dots …”Though simple, this quote speaks to the completeness of the lesson that shows how other lessons were not complete enough for him.
As I hope you can see, these strategies work. At the end of the day, the reader wants to get value and is relieved when you can end their search with an epic guitar lesson.
There are some things to generally avoid. This list consists of a few things to avoid to ensure your article is valuable intellectual property.
- Post your page in one location and try to build backlinks to that singular location. Posting in multiple locations usually hurts your search engine rank and lowers the value of the lesson to the website.
- Only add affiliate links if the link adds value. Also fully disclose that it’s an affiliate link and use the “sponsored” tag on the link.
- Get permission before you add your affiliate link to something published on another webpage.
- Use message boards to get the word out, but do not “spam it on every response”. Provide the link on threads where it can help the reader.
- Only add outside links that add value to your lesson. Low-value links is a disservice to your reader and can lower your search engine rank. Ask yourself the following questions before posting an outside link.
- Would I click on the link in this article to get more information?
- Am I giving the reader a reason to leave my page and not return (especially before I complete the lesson)?
Three Ways You Can Publish and Monetize Your Online Guitar Lessons
Publishing your content can take one of three forms: Self-Publishing, Partnering, and Selling. Wherever you post it, be sure to add it to your email list and social media so your followers know you have new content.
Self-Publishing / Advertising
Self-publishing is great if you want to build your own site/brand. The problem is that you will need to invest time in marketing your site. This includes activities like search engine optimization and social networking. This method makes sense if you want to create a site of several guitar lessons and monetize it.
To Monetize it, you can use advertisements like Google AdSense, add affiliate links to the lesson, add a video to YouTube with advertisements, or use it to drive traffic to other “for-sale” items on the site.
Partnering involves posting on someone else’s site in exchange for marketing their site through your own channels. To make this happen, you need a way to bring value to them. As an example, Musician’s Tip Jar reached out to me to be a guest and sponsor on one of their podcasts. In exchange they are linking to my site. To maximize that partnership’s value to both of us, I decided to write this lesson.
You can always sell your lessons directly if you have a way to generate traffic. Guitar Lesson World uses Gumroad (affiliate link) to sell my books and PDFs. It allows you to upload a file that can be downloaded after the transaction completes.
You can also sell your article to a webpage like Guitar Lesson World. I cannot speak for other guitar lesson sites, but I will pay for an epic guitar lesson if it brings value to my readers and is exclusive to my site. I have more information in the next section.
How to Write a Lesson for Guitar Lesson World and Make Money
For the first time ever, I am providing an opportunity to all aspiring guitarists to get paid to have a lesson published on Guitar Lesson World. Here is how to apply:
- Use my contact form to email me with your topic(s), which should add new value to Guitar Lesson World.
- I will respond to let you know if I’m interested in the topic and answer any questions you have on the process.
- Write an epic article following the criteria in this webpage.
- It will be reviewed for acceptance.
- If accepted, I will make an offer to buy the right to use it exclusively on my site or in one of my publications.
- If the offer is accepted, the payment will be sent, and the lesson will be published.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed my strategies for creating epic guitar lessons and how to monetize them. I am looking forward to reviewing potential guest posts. If you enjoyed this article, please like Guitar Lesson World on Facebook. As always feedback is appreciated via email.